Originating from the warmer climates of the southeastern U.S., red-eared sliders have since proliferated around the world due to their popularity as pets. Feral populations now exist in areas such as Israel, Guam, Australia and the Caribbean Islands.
In Japan, a recent study estimated that red-eared sliders now outnumber native turtle species 8-to-1, consuming up to 320 tons of water weeds each week in a single region of the country.
Because of their larger body sizes (growing up to 1 foot in the wild) and higher reproductive rates, red-eared sliders quickly dominate native species, out-competing them for food and basking spots.
"Red-eared sliders are on the list of the 100 most invasive species in the world," Allison Begley of Fish, Wildlife and Parks told Independence Record. "They're omnivores. They eat anything, and they adapt to any habitat."